Increase Service Life at Bridge Ends through Improved Abutment and Approach Slab Details and Water Management Practices TR-722

Stub abutments have been replaced with integral abutments in several bridges with short to mid-range lengths. The transition to a greater use of integral abutments has been primarily driven because of the superior performance of integral abutments in reducing deterioration caused by leaky expansion joints. However, ongoing problems with erosion and corrosion at both integral and stub abutment bridge ends are causing performance issues and increasing maintenance needs. The use of tied approaches, semi-integral abutments and/or other details can help relieve erosion and corrosion issues, but may introduce new issues which need to be addressed through a systematic study. The problem of erosion is mainly due to poor drainage systems, which are not effective at ensuring that water runoff is effectively transported away from important bridge areas. Most often, erosion in backfill under approach slabs leads to differential settlement causing unwanted bumps at bridge ends. It has also been found that short approach slabs most often cause bumps at bridge ends. The bumps at bridge ends cause a significant maintenance expenditure, added risk to maintenance workers, increased distraction to drivers, reduced steering control, and damage to vehicles, which are all undesirable consequences. Poor drainage can also lead to erosion of embankment material under the bridge, which results in slope protection failure and the exposure of H-piles, which are usually used in supporting the bridge abutment. In addition, when deicing salts are applied to the surface of a bridge, there is almost always the problem of corrosion. Corrosion of steel reinforcement adversely affects the structural integrity and may result in long-term durability and performance issues. Despite the increasing volume of literature devoted to the study of bridge abutments with different details and configurations, the issues associated with erosion, corrosion and cracking at bridge ends have not yet been resolved and are in need of a proper attention. Towards the ultimate goal of increasing the service life of bridges with minimum maintenance and repair, the proposed project investigates the details and strategies that can be successfully implemented to increase the service life at bridge ends through improved abutment, improved approach slab details, and better water management practices. Effective abutment replacement options for stub abutments, which are still used on bridges with longer lengths, will be explored as well.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $100000
    • Contract Numbers:


      Add 605

    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Iowa Department of Transportation

      800 Lincoln Way
      Ames, IA  United States  50010
    • Managing Organizations:

      Iowa State University, Ames

      Center for Transportation Research and Education
      2711 South Loop Drive, Suite 4700
      Ames, IA  United States  50010-8664
    • Performing Organizations:

      Iowa State University, Ames

      Center for Transportation Research and Education
      2711 South Loop Drive, Suite 4700
      Ames, IA  United States  50010-8664
    • Principal Investigators:

      Shafei, Behrouz

    • Start Date: 20170401
    • Expected Completion Date: 20210930
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01704525
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Iowa Department of Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: TR-722, Add 605
    • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: May 9 2019 10:33AM